Beshear kicks off statewide bus tour and reelection campaign with talk of hope and progress

By: - May 19, 2023 8:47 pm

After a campaign stop, Gov. Andy Beshear takes questions from reporters. (McKenna Horsley | Kentucky Lantern)

ELIZABETHTOWN — Rolling into Elizabethtown Friday afternoon in a chartered bus plastered with the words “Andy Beshear for Kentucky,” Gov. Andy Beshear lost little time telling workers at the Metalsa plant why he deserved four more years.

“I can’t wait to see everything we can do to continue this progress in the next four years, where we will turn these good years of economic development into decades of progress,” Beshear told the small crowd of Metalsa workers and United Auto Workers union members. 

The automotive parts plant, which employs more than 3,000 workers, was the governor’s fourth stop of the day before going to Bowling Green, along with his running mate, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman. The day started in Paducah. Over the next two days, he’ll visit eight more cities, including Lexington, Louisville, Pikeville and Newport.

In Elizabethtown, which is in Hardin County, he talked about the adversity the commonwealth has faced in recent years, including the coronavirus pandemic, tornadoes in Western Kentucky and flooding in Eastern Kentucky. But he also pointed to the investment in nearby Glendale, where the BlueOval SK Battery Park is expected to create 5,000 jobs producing lithium ion batteries for Ford electric cars. 

“What we are seeing is hope and opportunity here in Kentucky,” he said after praising Hardin County’s local economy. 

Among those who greeted the governor Friday were Hardin County Sheriff John Ward and Brett Barnes, systems manager at Metalsa. Barnes thanked Beshear and Coleman for not only seeing the plant’s work but also “looking at the people, because the people (are) the most important part of what we do.” 

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, right, speaks with a worker during a campaign stop in at a factory in Elizabethtown. (McKenna Horsley | Kentucky Lantern)

The incumbent Democratic governor will face Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron in the general election. 

Beshear began the year with a high approval rating among Kentuckians, according to a Morning Consult poll. He easily won his primary Tuesday with 91% of the votes. 

Republican candidates often criticized Beshear on the campaign trail and in debates for halting religious gatherings early in the pandemic amid a stay-at-home order. Things came to a boiling point on Easter Sunday 2020, when state troopers recorded license plates of people attending a church service. 

When asked about the criticism, Beshear said he’s focusing on talking about creating jobs and expanding healthcare while the other side stokes division with name calling. 

“They’re trying to divide us. They’re stoking fear and anger and hate,” Beshear said. “And I think people can see that too and know who’s living their faith and values.”

TV ads and fundraising 

Beshear had nearly $7 million for his campaign before the primary election was held on May 16. Cameron’s final report before the primary election showed his campaign had a total of $1.5 million. 

In a tweet earlier this week, Beshear’s campaign manager Eric Hyers said the campaign raised more than $650,000 in the first 24 hours after Tuesday’s primary. On Friday, the Cameron campaign sent a fundraising email that said it is “being MASSIVELY outraised by the Radical Left machine that is running Andy Beshears campaign.” 

Medium Buying reported that Beshear’s first TV ad this election cycle will start Monday. In the 2019 general election, his first TV was released in August. 

Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge said during a press call Thursday, that the party plans to rally behind Beshear and its slate of candidates during the summer months. Traditionally, the West Kentucky Fancy Farm picnic held in August, where politicians speak to energized crowds while vendors create an atmosphere of county fair and church barbecue supper, is considered the start of the general election campaigning season. 

Elridge noted Beshear’s current high approval rating and added that Democrats intend to keep it that way. Democrats plan to set the pace when it comes to messaging and not be reactionary. 

“Our opponents are going to spend an ungodly amount of money and resources trying to tear this governor apart,” the chairman said. “They’re going to spend a lot of money and time and effort telling lies about Andy Beshear that, frankly, is a waste of money because the people of this Commonwealth know who Andy Beshear is and they know who he is not.”

The Beshear campaign bus is hitting multiple cities this weekend. (McKenna Horsley | Kentucky Lantern)

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.